Sunday, May 08, 2011

Fast Five

If you would have told me a few months ago that I would like the fifth installment of this apparently dead series about car races I would have laughed in your face. But it seems that new life has been pumped into this series of deadwood acting, fast cars, pretty girls and a lifeless plot. What happened what changed, does that mean I need to go back and watch the fourth one? Almost ten years ago I saw the first film the Fast and the Furious, it was pretty fun. I liked Vin Diesel, I thought Paul Walker made Keanu Reeves look Oscar worthy, Jordana Brewster was hot and yeah, those cars moved really fast. The second film wasn't very good and I completely lost any interest in the series. I tried to watch the first ten minutes of Tokyo Drift, and I just couldn't get it through it. So fast-forward to this year, the trailer comes out for Fast Five. I shrug my shoulders, "eh big deal." It didn't seem that interesting to me. The main guys return to steal some money and race some cars, oh and now the Rock is involved. O.K., good for them maybe they'll make a few bucks. Then I start hearing from very reliable people that this is better then you might think. I'm still skeptical. I mean these flicks are almost always bad, and not in the fun way, more like lame. But I was told on good authority that these were actually worth checking out and that it's a solid heist flick. So I said OK, why not, let's see what Toretto and O'Connor have been up to the last few years.
I'm assuming a few months had passed since the fourth film and we start out with a daring mid-day breakout from a prison transport for Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel).  It looks like his old buddy, former cop turned outlaw Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) and Dom's hot sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) are behind the wheels of the escape vehicles, inexplicably there were no injuries and the other prisoners were accounted for except for Toretto. Fast-forward a few months later and Brian and Mia are together and on the run, this time in Brazil, they are apparently out of money and starving. They wind up doing a job to bring in a few bucks but find themselves on the bad side of a notorious drug runner and cop who apparently has the ultimate power in Rio, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Dom and Brian decide the only way to get this Bad Cop out of their lives is to steal every last dime he has, about 100 million. But in order to do this big Con they have to hire some help; Tej Parker (Ludacris) is there gadgets and tech man, Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson) is I think what you might call a Forger, they imply that he can get in and out of any situation with this charisma. Han Lue (Sung Kang) a driver, he was in Tokyo Drift I believe along with Tej. There is an Israeli woman who it is implied that she formally worked for Mossad, Gisele Harabo (Gal Gadot), I think she may be a weapons expert but I can't remember what she was there to do specifically. She was gorgeous though and pulled a great lift in the film. To round out the crew you have two goofy locals as the grease men. Rico Santos (Don Omar) and Tego Leo (Tego Calderon) had to do most if not all of the dirty work and you'll know what I mean when you see the movie. To top it all off the crew now has the ultimate warrior bad ass cop from America on their tail and he doesn't give a shit about much except for taking Toretto and his crew down, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). He is assisted by a local honest cop, Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) to take down Torretto, but she gets the hots for the bank robber and finds herself in a pickle.
So yeah, I thought this was a fun flick and I like the direction they are going with the series, it seems a little more streamlined and has become more of a heist movie then a racing movie which suits me just fine. I never got into the illegal drag racing element of the original storyline, so them getting back to fare like Ocean's 11 and the Italian Job was a win win in my book. Now it isn't as clever or smart as those films, kind of a low rent Ocean's 11, but it really is an exciting ride. The script could have used a last polish but I won't nitpick that here, I mean this thing made a boatload of cash over the last few weeks so obviously no one else was bothered by the slightly dull script. Ironically of the cast members this time around the one I found myself rooting for the most and enjoying was Paul Walker, yeah, I said Paul Walker. The guy made of wood and stone for most of his career seemed to be having the most fun with this one and I will admit I felt he had the most heart. Vin on the other hand was stiff as a board and seemed like he was just kind of there. Maybe that's just how his Dom is supposed to be but damn, inject some kind of life into it. It reminded me a bit of his Riddick character from that sequel almost no emotion whatsoever. Where is that guy who was so animated in Saving Private Ryan, the Boiler Room etc.? I also was a little annoyed with the casting of Tyrese Gibson, that guy is just terrible. Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. Every time he opened his mouth in this movie I think everyone in the theatre collectively groaned.
Anyway, Director Justin Lin did a great job keeping the pace and the action of the flick going and not allowing anything to let up, he just put his foot on the accelerator, with a dose of nitrous, and kept on trucking. At first I thought the Rock was also a little stiff but he grew on me and I really enjoyed his fight scene with Dom, very good idea pitting him against Vin Diesel, I recommend they do a repeat in the sequel I think it will certainly give it a boost. So go and check this out if you're looking for a fast fun popcorn flick that doesn't let up from start to finish. I would see it soon though, there are far better films coming down the pike, and even though it made a boatload of cash to start out the summer I have a feeling it won't be the last.
Grade: 3 Buckets

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